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Filola Beitler: Starting the Cannabis Conversation with Confidence

Filola Beitler wasn’t always open about how she consumes cannabis to relax and manage anxiety. The longstanding federal prohibition, coupled with the social stigma that came with cannabis, influenced her decision to not talk about cannabis for many years.

“I was certainly hush-hush about it,” said Beitler, culture and engagement manager for Ethos Cannabis. “The stigma behind it loomed… I was an athlete, my parents were very traditional — my friends knew, and that was it.”

Still, Beitler much preferred a cannabis session to the alcohol-laden parties many of her peers enjoyed. She said she found relief and focus in cannabis, something that was important to achieving her goals.

As Beitler entered the professional world and became a mother of two, the pressure to stay quiet about cannabis only mounted. Now, as a parent, Beitler was aware there were many who might judge her unfairly based on false assumptions about cannabis.

“I didn’t want these perceptions of me that weren’t true, these misconceptions about people who use cannabis being stoners and spacey and all these negative implications,” she said. “I was not any of those things. Cannabis was something that helped me live a better life.”

Of course, despite Beitler understanding that cannabis helped improve her mental health and everyday stress, social acceptance felt like an unrealistic hope. She remained mum on the subject, preferring to keep her cannabis consumption private lest she face harsh, unfair judgment from others.

Once Beitler began in her role with Ethos Cannabis in 2021, though, her thoughts on the matter began to shift. Soon, Beitler felt confident – and proud – to be a part of the movement shattering stereotypes surrounding cannabis consumers. 

“A switch flipped where I talked about it openly. Joining Ethos helped me shed that veil of not really talking about it, and now I’m proud to talk about it,” she said. 

Once she opened up about her cannabis experience, Beitler said she was amazed by how many others were not only receptive to the conversation, but had their own experiences to share. 

“I look at all these people that have an interest in cannabis or a story connected to cannabis, and just nobody was talking about it,” Beitler said. “I just thought ‘wow, there are more people in support of cannabis than not at this point.”

Today, nearly 1 in 5 American adults consume cannabis at least once per year, and 91% of Americans approve of medical cannabis legalization. People report consuming for reasons ranging from relaxation to pain management, with a wide range of preferences when it comes to product types and methods of consumption. 

Many, like Beitler, have shared positive experiences with friends and family. Over time, that visibility has contributed to breaking the stigma facing cannabis, even for those who don’t personally consume. For Beitler, the sense of normalization that came along with seeing how many people were also cannabis consumers even encouraged her to discuss the potential relief cannabis might offer with her mother, whom she once hid her consumption from altogether.

“My mom has a lot of health issues; she’s in a lot of pain and has a lot of things going on,” Beitler said. “I’ve talked to her about getting her card and the benefits that cannabis could bring to her life.”

As a mother herself, Beitler said she is grateful her career has helped her become a transparent resource for her children as well, who she can be there to answer questions for when they encounter cannabis in their lives. 

“When I was a child, I didn’t have my parents to talk to about cannabis,” she said. “I may not have been making some of the best decisions when I was younger because of that, so being able to live in a more transparent world only helps us.”

From secretive to evangelist, Beitler said she is proud to tell the world about her work in the industry and offer her story about how cannabis improves her life. Her days of keeping it close to the vest are over. 

“I want to share the journey and all the positive things we’re doing,” she added.

One example, Beitler said, is Ethos’s partnership with Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University, an institution conducting research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis, and particularly for cannabis and anxiety. While cannabis is now medically legal in 38 states, researchers are keen to shed more light on how cannabis could work as a therapeutic agent for many ailments. Cannabis’s versatility as a source of relief, Beitler said, is reflected by the diverse community of consumers that surround it.

“Once you start to get exposed to it and see other people utilizing cannabis … over time, you realize these things we’ve been told growing up aren’t true,” she said. “You don’t have to fit a certain stereotype to be a cannabis consumer. Cannabis is for every race, ethnicity, every gender, every size, every practice — it’s for every human to help them live a better life, a happier life, a more comfortable life,” she said.

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